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Trump’s counter-Enlightenment mindset

By Geoffrey Barker, 1 December 2022

Most analyses of Trump focus on his narcissistic and often infantile personality, his contempt for truth and for the conventions of presidential office, his belligerent vulgarity, and his refusal to accept electoral defeat even as a mob of his violent followers stormed the US Capitol.

Trump is an obviously troubling figure given the strong, if possibly wavering, support he still commands inside the Republican Party. So perhaps it is time to try to explain the man who wants to be the 47th US President.

Trump is primarily a throwback to, or a descendant of, the counter-Enlightenment forces who resisted the transformational intellectual advances of the Enlightenment throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.

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"A striking feature of Trump’s words and deeds in and out of office are how clearly and cleanly they dovetail with counter-Enlightenment thought and how close they seem to match the sentiments of de Maistre and other counter-Enlightenment figures."
Geoffrey Barker
Former European and Washington correspondent, and former news editor and political correspondent for The Age

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